Traveling with a large family group presents some unique challenges even for veteran travelers. Older and younger family members can have different, and occasionally competing, needs. It can be a challenge to make plans and find activities that please everyone. Don't let the challenge deter you from planning a family trip though! When done properly, intergenerational travel can be a wonderful and memorable bonding experience. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your next family vacation
You may prefer to travel by the seat of your pants, but a family trip that satisfies Grandma and your 5-year-old cousin is going to require some strategy. You'll want a plan that isn't too grueling but still keeps everyone interested. As a result you will probably want to cut back on too much moving from place to place and focus on one or two destinations where people can enjoy themselves.
In the interests of not annoying your loved ones, do not enforce a constant togetherness policy. The key to pleasing everyone is giving people space to pursue their own interests.
Cruises and resorts are really popular for family travel for this reason: everyone can choose activities that suit their preferences and activity level, while still spending time together. You don't have to choose a packaged vacation though. Just be willing to split up when necessary, and then come together at dinner to talk about your adventures.
If you're planning long days of walking or outdoor activities, you better make sure everyone in your family is up for the challenge. Are there people in your party with mobility issues? Then Cinque Terre in Italy is probably not a great choice. Be sensitive to people's needs and be willing to temporarily split up as necessary.
When you travel on your own you might be content with budget hostels and cheap hotels, but your relatives may not be up for that brand of adventure. It's important that everyone feels comfortable on their vacation so consider an upgrade. This doesn't have to mean luxury hotels or bust. A large spacious apartment rental is a great compromise for budget and comfort.
Traveling with any kind of companion means making sacrifices. Traveling with people with different interests, experiences and agility levels means making bigger sacrifices at times.
For this reason you may want to pick a destination you've visited previously. This way you will be less concerned with exploring and better able to focus on your family.
There is always at least one moment during the trip when crankiness sets in. When people start bickering, chances are that they are either tired or hungry. If you can keep everyone well rested and well fed, your trip will go much smoother. Plan for plenty of breaks and consider packing some emergency granola bars for between-meal slumps.
Traveling together is a great way to create lasting memories, so make sure you document your trip well. In addition to the usual landscapes and tourist attractions, make sure to take lots of candid shots. You'll thank yourself for it later!
Have you gone on an intergenerational trip before? How did it go?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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